Sep 7, 2013, 9:20 AM EDT
The International Olympic Committee will make the second of three major votes at its session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Sunday.
Nearly 100 IOC members will choose one of three sports — baseball/softball, squash and wrestling — for inclusion in the 2020 and 2024 Olympics from 11-11:45 a.m. Eastern time. For more on what happens Sunday, click here.
OlympicTalk will look at each sport’s pitch. Here is a rundown of baseball-softball:
Jessica Mendoza played softball during the 2012 Olympics.
Not with the U.S. national team. No, London marked the first Games since 1992 to not include softball. Rather, the 2004 and 2008 Olympian took to the diamond last summer with the USSSA Pride of the National Pro Fastpitch league in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Akron, Ohio, and Kannapolis, N.C.
“All my Olympic teammates, we were all on the same field,” Mendoza, who gave birth to a baby boy, Caden, two weeks ago, said in a phone interview this week. “It was this weird feeling, being so far away from it.”
Mendoza said she spent days last summer watching the Olympics on TV. At night, she had league games to play. It brought to mind her Olympic experiences in Athens and Beijing.
“I felt, honestly, like crying,” she said. “We should be there. Instead of here in Florida, we should be there in London.”
Baseball and softball were cut from the Olympic program in an agonizing decision eight years ago. A total of 105 IOC members were eligible to vote “yay” or “nay” on all Olympic sports. A majority was needed to remain in the Games.
Baseball went down 54-50. Softball was 52-52. One member abstained from each vote. Had that member voted for softball, it would still be in the Olympics. Had anybody switched in favor of softball, it would still be in the Olympics.
Baseball and softball are now baseball-softball, one combined bid competing against squash and wrestling for one opening in the Olympic program for 2020 and 2024. Wrestling is considered the favorite. The Associated Press described baseball-softball’s chances as, “likely headed for another strikeout.”
“It’s so hard because a lot of the people voting are the same people who voted in 2005,” Mendoza said. “I’ve learned since then to understand the IOC a little bit more and learn that it’s very hard to figure out what they’re thinking.”
Tommy Lasorda doesn’t understand, either. Lasorda, 85, the retired Hall of Fame Dodgers manager, is probably the man most associated with U.S. Olympic baseball. He guided the 2000 Olympic club to gold, a group of minor leaguers who upset favored Cuba to cap an unlikely run. A “Miracle”-like documentary was in the works a few years ago.
“They made a big, big mistake,” voting baseball out, Lasorda said in a phone interview. “They’ve got sports that aren’t even sports in the Olympics.”
Together, baseball and softball are stronger than they were individually. They’re pushing for more compact Olympic tournaments, six days each, and at the same venue, saving money.
Baseball-softball’s chances will rise if Tokyo is elected as the 2020 host one day before the sport vote. Japan won the last Olympic softball tournament in 2008 and the first two World Baseball Classics in 2006 and 2009. It would be able to fill seats better than other candidates Istanbul or Madrid.
Issues that hurt each sport in the past remain. Softball is certainly more global than it was in its Olympic debut in 1996, but it’s still lacking support and popularity in Europe.
Baseball is beset by its doping problems and that the Olympics are not the ultimate goal for the sport. Major League Baseball players compete in the World Baseball Classic, but, so far, MLB has said it’s unwilling to stop its season to free players for the Olympics, like the NHL does.
“Those guys have contracts to worry about,” retired first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, who hit a walk-off home run in the 2000 Olympic semifinals, said in a phone interview. “The timing’s never going to be right for them. This was a stepping stone for us (minor leaguers in 2000). Some of us, (the Olympics) was our big leagues.”
Olympic baseball proponents, such as Fidel Castro‘s son, argue that there’s plenty of time for negotiations with MLB on seeking a solution for the world’s best players to go to the Games.
American Don Porter is the president of the International Softball Federation and a co-president of the World Baseball Softball Confederation. He said he was packing to bring to Buenos Aires letters he’s received from girls who want to play Olympic softball.
“We’ve got a lot of young girls and boys out there who want to get their Olympic dreams back,” he told the AP.
Sep 17, 2014, 3:38 PM EDT
Canadian from memorable 2002 Olympic pairs competition to coach NHL players.
Sep 17, 2014, 2:13 PM EDT
Olympic halfpipe champion is focused on two competitions this season.
Sep 17, 2014, 10:54 AM EDT
Curling is the first Winter Olympic sport to have a sculpture in the Olympic Museum park.
Sep 17, 2014, 10:38 AM EDT
World record holder, now 40, could enter two more major marathons.
Sep 17, 2014, 10:04 AM EDT
Two-time Olympic champion runs five or six times per week.
Sep 17, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
Two-time Olympic halfpipe champion “more poised” for slopestyle success in 2018.
Sep 17, 2014, 8:41 AM EDT
Jones posted she had “flashbacks of the three Olympics and that people constantly tease me about.”
Sep 16, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT
More than 7.5 million tickets will be available for the Games.
Sep 16, 2014, 11:57 AM EDT
German star suffered torn ACL.
Sep 16, 2014, 11:35 AM EDT
Shuko Uchimura hadn’t competed in some 30 years, according to Japanese report.
Sep 16, 2014, 9:39 AM EDT
Olympic 200m free champion going back to France.
Sep 16, 2014, 9:11 AM EDT
“The city is the Olympic park,” official tells Boston Globe.
Sep 15, 2014, 4:43 PM EDT
Osmond won Olympic silver in the Sochi team event.
Sep 15, 2014, 4:27 PM EDT
IPC president Sir Philip Craven looks ahead to an anniversary and a new frontier for the Paralympics.
Sep 15, 2014, 2:36 PM EDT
The greatest Olympians of this generation discuss thoughts on one another.
Sep 15, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT
U.S. bounced in Poland with five-set loss to Argentina.
Sep 15, 2014, 11:16 AM EDT
The second-biggest winner from the FIBA World Cup may be a nation that didn’t compete in Spain.
Sep 15, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT
Olympic bronze medalist figure skater dated Olympic race-walking champion when he tested positive.
Sep 13, 2014, 8:52 PM EDT
Nike had suspended its contract with the runner six days after he shot and killed his girlfriend.
Sep 12, 2014, 4:50 PM EDT
Simpson, racing the Fifth Avenue Mile on Saturday, is one tenth away from breaking a 31-year-old mark.
- Shaun White ‘more motivated’ to compete than before Sochi 0
- Lolo Jones eliminated from ‘Dancing with the Stars’ 5
- Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps hope to meet for first time before Olympic farewell 0
- What U.S.’ FIBA World Cup title means for Olympics 0
- Oscar Pistorius’ Nike contract terminated 6
- Oscar Pistorius would be allowed in Paralympics after serving sentence 1
- Oscar Pistorius guilty of culpable homicide (verdict video) 3
- Emotional Bode Miller medals in race that mattered most (61)
- Russian women kissing after relay victory at World Championships causes stir (57)
- IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics (47)
- South Korea filing official complaint over Yuna Kim’s Olympic silver (39)
- Zola Budd, 47, dominates college runners in 5K (33)